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Ad Blockers Affect Everyone

 

NO ADSThe sudden rise of Ad Blocking software and Apple’s integration of this software on its iOS9 program have created a lot of buzz in the digital marketing world. Users are fed up with advertisements taking up their screens and intruding on their content. It’s incredibly frustrating to visit sites with awful user experiences.It’s no different than enjoying meal after meal at your local restaurant and then having an awful experience and writing about it on Facebook or Yelp. The few negatives always stand out more than the “expected” outcomes.

What exactly is an ad blocker?

An ad blocker is hardware or software that blocks certain ads on a page. Ad blockers can come in the forms of extensions on web browsers, or mobile-specific ad-blocking browsers. No matter how an ad blocker is deployed the purpose is the same: To remove ads from the viewer’s screen. Ad blockers aren’t exactly new. This technology has been around for years, but Apple’s interest in the space, a move geared towards garnering partnerships with content publishers, has certainly driven the recent interest in the topic. The Interactive Advertising Bureau refers to ad blocking as “highway robbery.” So there’s another definition.

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What does ad blocking do to the free content eco-system?

It won’t be a surprise to anyone reading this that I, a digital marketer, am not a fan of ad blocking. I like getting a paycheck, but more importantly I love how digital has changed the way we consume information and socialize with friends and businesses. The data has allowed us more targeted and relevant advertising to consumers.

 

Great content isn’t free. Stories, reports, websites, and most importantly, TIME, is not free. Throughout much of advertising’s existence the understanding between content consumer and publisher was that if I provide you content there will be advertising around it to support the business of creating such content. If we remove ads from the ecosystem, there will be no revenue coming in to support said content. Publications, TV, Radio, Newspaper and digital-only content would have to become subscription-based. Many of these mediums already are for some. But imagine a place where I can no longer go on CNN.com for political updates. I again would have to pay $100+ for a satellite or cable provider to show me CNN, or more accurately in the near future, pay $1 per month or $0.25 per pageview. Many favorite blogs would need subscriptions, or find a major distribution partner, to stay afloat.I don’t know many people interested in this scenario. Without the free web, many entrepreneurs and start-up bloggers wouldn’t have the opportunities if people had to pay for that same beginning content.

 

Where do we go from here?

Great question. Thanks! (Stop inner monologue). Two things need to happen in my opinion. First, an organization needs to govern the advertising online and make it virtually illegal to deploy intrusive or obnoxious advertising without indication from a user. The IAB could be that organization, but their self-described failures have been well-documented. in allowing the industry to chase display ad dollars and not see the denigration of user experience. To their credit the IAB is looking into ways to keep digital advertising from becoming a nuisance and return us to the days where the relationship was understood: Want free content? Deal with a few ads. Pretty simple.

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Secondly, ad blockers and mobile use have driven the need for content-based advertising through Native Ads or Sponsored Content. This has given the user less intrusive, more environment-appropriate messaging. But the near future of digital marketing is in content and creating information that is fun, insightful, helpful or entertaining to the consumer. Content marketing allows for more sharing via social networks and often creates a consumer appreciative of something of value and not just an ad. My fear is in a matter of time Native Ad spots will become ineffective and be glossed over as much as banner ads are today. Alas, this industry is resilient and continues to adapt and change to reach consumers wherever they go.

 

One final thought on ad blockers

Those of us in this industry are the most responsible. Some publishers and websites do a great job of creating experiences for customers/viewers that not only inform but also entertain. We provide a place for business relationships to occur, sometimes subtly and other times through user-triggered advertising. Regardless how a business chooses to run a site and advertising, we are responsible for creating environments in which our consumers feel like they can get the information they want easily, effectively and with a reasonable amount of advertising. Full takeovers, in-your-face tactics do not work and should not be deployed unless an interaction has triggered such a move. Otherwise, we’re continuing a revolt against our industry of digital advertising and digital content consumption.
Publishers and advertisers need to hold each other accountable. Consumers won’t care enough. They’ll move on to someone like Apple who will provide them what they want. Be respectful of a user’s time. People aren’t our commodity. They are our connection to the digital ecosystem.

Content is King: Effective Content Marketing

Content Marketing is becoming the buzzword of our business in 2015. And the reason is obvious: without quality content your brand won’t engage consumers. Facebook’s “content” or lack thereof, are the reason I deleted my account. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg still has my data, but that’s a blog for another day. The key in all content marketing is to be at least one of the following: informative, educational or entertaining.


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There are literally countless forms of content and ways to distribute said content. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to discuss the most common ways businesses create content and a few best practices for delivering those messages. The most important part of content marketing is understanding the medium. Be cognizant of the user experience and how users use the particular medium. People go to Facebook for a different reason than they go to your website, YouTube, stream radio on Pandora, or browse their favorite Star Trek blog. Make sure wherever your content goes it’s hitting the right user at the right time with the right message.

A website is the cornerstone of online marketing. Most businesses’ digital strategy starts with driving traffic to a website. Once there how do you get people to come back? What about your website drives users to come back or buy from you? Many times a consumer’s first touchpoint with your business or your brand is through your website and thus their user experience on your site is vital. So how important is it to have engaging, relevant and recent content on your website? Let’s just say Google’s algorithms are constantly changing to find the most up-to-date and relevant information. If your last website change occurred in 2007 people most likely aren’t seeing you on the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Another growing factor in search results is video. So make sure your website is hosting video, preferably YouTube videos since Google owns YouTube.

Another extremely popular and growing segment of content distribution is Social Media. Remember, SM should be used responsibly and with a strategy. (Check out our previous post on fitting Social into your overall plan). Your message needs to be consistent with your overall marketing plan and should be delivered through SM in the same fashion. If your business doesn’t like to discount, don’t send out discounts through SM. Again, if you haven’t posted on Facebook in 2 months, you may be losing out on the SERP. A post on Twitter will look and act differently than on Pinterest. Facebok is very conversational. Pinterest is great if you can provide new ideas to enhance people’s lives in a tangible way. Instagram is a great tool to showcase work with photos. Twitter is a good use for quick messages, bits of info, or time-sensitive messages. Who can forget this from the 2013 Super Bowl?

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Outstanding use of content on Twitter.

 

Think about the medium when using content in advertising and the difference. When you put content on your website, YouTube, Social Media, etc it’s being delivered to people who are seeking it out. These users have found or searched you directly. The content within ads has to be delivered in a way people understand your brand or objective in a matter of seconds. In this way, advertising copy has to be extremely effective, hence the rise of advertising agencies. And again, digital ads need different content than a TV, radio or print ad. Use the space accordingly.

Native Audience Example

An example of Native Advertising on the Forum Communications network via a mobile phone.

 

Native Advertising has grown tremendously in the past year. According to almost all projections, it’s only going to continue to grow. Native Advertising is a generic term for sponsored content that fits into whatever medium on which the user views the content. For instance, Promoted Tweets are Native Advertising. Advertorials are a form of Native. Most online publishers, including NY Times, Washington Post, Vanity and of course RiverTown Multimedia and Forum Communications Company, have adopted Native Advertising as a new form of revenue. And according to this study, Native ads are working.

Email is another rather simple, almost archaic, form of content marketing. You control the message. You can control who you’re sending the email to via a 1st party list or a 3rd party list. Sending to your 1st party email list will have one message while 3rd party is going to look and act differently. Keep in mind the amount of information you put into an email. How long do you typically look at an email? What subject line would you open? As I said at the outset of this post, keep the content informational, educational or entertaining.

No matter your marketing strategy understand how people use and view content. Articles like this show how people don’t necessarily care WHO wrote the content as long as it’s engaging and informative, given they know who wrote it. Deception is never a good idea when creating content. So be transparent with your Native Advertising and provide true value for the reader. Every touchpoint with your content is an opportunity to lose, gain or persuade a customer. Often the content’s tone, message and effectiveness will dictate which way they go.

Finally, have a plan. Schedule your content so it’s timely and reaches the desired audience at the right time. Know ahead of time when you will be sending what Tweet. Have a calendar reminding you to update your website with new content. Upload another YouTube video every quarter. Every medium that touches your audience should have a calendar. We all know sometimes life gets in the way and certain things take a backseat. That’s fine. But when you have a plan you’re more likely to stick to it and be consistent in your content than just winging it.

Thanks for reading this month’s blog. If you haven’t already, please follow RiverTown Multimedia on Twitter @rivertownmedia and on Facebook by clicking here.

Fitting SOCIAL into Your Overall Media Plan

SocialMedia function

“Finalizing the 4 functions of Social media – the 4 C’s” Posted on March 30, 2011 by makkara

Over the last 8 years of working in the advertising world I’ve heard a lot of things. I’ve heard reasons to NOT advertise, reasons it doesn’t work, complaints about my company and complaints about others. But one of the most common phrases I’ve heard from small businesses is “I have Social Media and it’s FREE!”    

Any marketer or business owner who thinks Social is the answer to all advertising problems is either A) Misguided or B) Misinformed. Social Media is as much advertising as word of mouth. It may be a form of marketing, but by definition is NOT advertising.

Your Social Media function may take many forms depending on your strategy. It’s an opportunity to have a conversation with users in real time. In this sense it’s more of a Public Relations or Customer Relations tool. For example, Social Media is great at engaging your current customers with fun games, unique opportunities and contests. However, providing a 15% off discount alone without any further interaction is not what your followers are seeking. They expect you to be Social on Social Media. Weird concept, right?

Many businesses also use SM to filter complaints. If a complaint catches on and goes viral the business may lose many customers. If they answer a complaint quickly and provide solutions, which can be done quickly on SM, at most they lose one customer. Airlines are known for this. There’s nothing worse than sitting on a tarmack for 3 hours. What else can one do, but post their anger on Social Media?

Most social channels now offer paid opportunities, meaning an advertiser could advertise through and on Social Media. Of course, this costs money like any form of advertising. Your standalone Facebook page is in and of itself NOT advertising. I like to think of it this way: Using your social channel is a great way to reward or interact with current customers, but does very little to bring in new customers. And the number of people you can reach organically through a Facebook post continues to plummet. So it’s obvious that what was once a “Free” opportunity to interact with followers is now becoming a forced buy.

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Social value-time function

“4 Composite Functions of Social Media” from The Relationship Economy by JAY DERAGON on 12/08/2009

Most small businesses don’t have the staff to consistently create excellent content that goes viral and gets shared at no charge. It’s extremely difficult to garner the scale intended when Facebook first started.

In the image to the right, most small businesses only have time to hit the “Administration” and “Listening & Learning” stages. It takes at minimum a specialist, and at most a team, to think, plan, engage and measure your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other accounts. But at minimum listen to and learn about your customers. If you have time to plan and measure great! But we all know it’s hard to find that time.

 

A customer’s first interaction with you is RARELY your Social Media page. They either hear about you from someone else, see a shared post/video, visited your store or been to your website. But how do you get them to find you?

 

advertising

Advertising, as defined by numerous sources, is more or less a paid message through TV, Radio, Newspaper, Digital and Outdoor. Advertising is one branch of Marketing called “Promotion.” Social Media, PR, marketing products (pens, can coolers, t-shirts) are also part of promotions. But only one is paid space or time…

Advertising. Reaching your audience through targeted display advertising can be a great way to find new, potential customers. “But how can Social and display work together,” you ask? Utilize the demographic information you find from your Facebook page to target your display ads. If a group of people already “Like” you, similar people may also like and buy from you. If 75% of your followers are women 35-54 you already have a targeting strategy in mind. Advertising is where people expect to see offers, deals, image ads, branding, etc. And as already explained, users don’t want advertising while using Social. (More targeting tactics were discussed in a previous blog post.)

Native Toyota headline

Toyota’s Native Advertising campaign distributed through the RiverTown network.

There are ways to blend the content you put out on Social Media channels into a subtle form of advertising called Native Advertising. Pay someone to distribute your message to enhance reach, find new customers and entertain/inform/educate a new audience (see above). Businesses can also sponsor content previously produced by their partnering vendor. Complement the content you push out to followers and friends on Social Media with content distributed the other media vendors. It’s a great way to reach new customers with a message you already approve without reinventing the wheel! More thoughts on this topic will be coming down the road.

Keep these differences in mind when planning your media strategy. Advertising is paid. Social Media is content you share with mostly current customers.

Thanks again for reading. If you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @rivertownmedia and let’s continue the conversation.

Have a good one!